The Importance of Knowledge in the Life of Fredrick Douglass

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Bobby Mason
Writing 121
16 November 2012

The Importance of Knowledge
The importance of knowledge can serve many purposes, for many different types of people. Knowledge is a set of skills and information obtained through experience or education, giving someone the ability to perform well in a specific field or certain ability. In the Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass, the importance of knowledge serves as a much more significant purpose. Knowledge was not a simple trait of skills or information; it was his path to freedom, a path to success, and a path to becoming someone that he never had the chance to be. In the Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass, Douglass shows us the importance of knowledge and how it makes “a slave (into) a man,” triumphing over slavery (39). Knowledge gave Douglass the tools necessary to see how his masters viewed him and his race. Slaves were not people. How could they be? From the time Douglass was born, dehumanizing began. As soon as Douglass left his mothers womb, he was quickly separated from his mother, ruining the bond between mother and son. Douglass sees this cruel act as a way “to hinder the development of (his) affection toward (his) mother” (2). This happened to many slaves, in an attempt to ruin the affection towards one another as family members. Another method of dehumanization was not permitting slaves to know their age or birthday. Douglass believed that “slaves (knew) as little of their ages as horses know of theirs, (…) keeping their slaves ignorant” (1). This was a way to maintain the slaves minds, making them feel less human than their white owners. Rape was an additional tactic used to dehumanize slaves. This confused the children and lowered the esteem of the men and women. This also made Douglass feel more comparable to an animal, because of the breeding tactics done in an attempt to enhance a slave owner’s own wealth. Lastly, slaves were treated similar to livestock that worked among...
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